The Write Rules
Are you committing these sins in your scientific writing? Time to repent.
- Minimize jargon. If you must use it, do not assume familiarity. Provide a definition. A well-written definition will not insult knowledgeable readers. It will reassure them you are also an expert.
- Use the simpler word. Replace utilize with use and within to in.
- Define abbreviations early. Start with the first mention and persist.
- Weed aggressively. If the word does not contribute to the meaning of the sentence it is not necessary. A, the, and that are often superfluous. The construct “there are…” is rarely justified. When summarizing research results eliminate “studies report…” or “they found…” which are implied.
- Reduce repetition. Use word-processing search features to find recurring use of your favorite words or phrases.
- Do not editorialize. Avoid unfortunately, only, surprisingly, nonetheless and similar. The facts must speak for themselves.
- Keep the subject first. Burying the subject beneath introductory clauses frustrates the reader.
- Eliminate passive constructs. An example: “information will be collected.” Active voice is more convincing: “we will collect….”
- Be positive. “Patient comfort” is less contorted than “lack of discomfort.”
- Unpack long sentences and paragraphs. More short sentences are better than one that is overstuffed. If a paragraph covers more than one double spaced page it likely contains more than one idea.